T+2: What a Change in Settlement Dates Means to You

Brad Johnson, CFA CFP® Vice President—Investment Officer 

A seismic change hit the securities markets on Sept. 5, 2017, without causing so much as a ripple. That is the day financial companies, Old Second included, will figuratively flip a switch and begin settling stock, ETF, corporate and municipal bond, and some limited partnership transactions two business days after their trade dates. Previously, trades settled on a T+3 basis, or in three business days.

What This Means to You

With the change to T+2, when you sell exchange-traded securities you will receive your money one day sooner than in the past. As a buyer, you can expect to pay and take ownership of these securities one day earlier. Treasuries and most mutual funds are unaffected. They will continue to offer a faster settlement.

While shortening the settlement cycle seems like a big deal, it mainly will affect mindsets. It also may require a bit more planning, at least initially, to ensure cash is available to accommodate the earlier payment date.

For corporate cash managers, the shortened cycle may also mean adjustments in their liquidity strategies. However, increased efficiency should be the end-result.

Why the Change?

The change reflects the electronic nature of securities transactions. Today, there is no need to accommodate paper-based delivery of securities, which is where the processing delay originated. It’s also a move that will align the United States and Canada (which will be making the switch to T+2 at the same time) with settlement procedures already in practice on other global market exchanges.

Also, T+2 will help reduce some market, counterparty and credit risk, specifically for firms that clear transactions. With less time to settle, there is less time for things to go wrong. When they do the response and resolution should similarly occur that much faster.

Once the markets and investors have had an opportunity to adjust to T+2, a move toward T+1 is expected to follow, which would improve efficiencies further. In addition, some experts suspect that the switch could eventually lead to lower collateral requirements when securities are pledged against loans. However, we are not there just yet.

Should you have any questions about how the change to T+2 affects your trading or cash management strategies, call me at 1-630-906-5545.

Lot Loans: Perfect Homes Start With the Perfect Spot

Jocelyn Retz, Vice President—Home Loans 

Whether it’s the unobstructed view or the opportunity to build a custom home, what are your next steps after you find the perfect vacant lot?

If you plan to finance the property, the first step is to find a lender, like Old Second, that is willing to make a “lot loan” for the property you wish to purchase. With the abundance of undeveloped land in the counties we serve—and those where our clients frequently vacation—we have extensive experience in financing this type of purchase.

For clients interested in building a home on an empty lot, however, we do require that it be an improved lot. This means that there is infrastructure—roads and utilities—already present.

Other Considerations

Before purchasing, we also recommend running through a list of considerations to help determine whether the property will suit your plans and your budget. Specifically, we suggest you ask yourself:

  • Will you need to install a septic tank? This may require some adjustments and added costs along with ongoing maintenance.
  • What is the soil like? Depending on previous use of the land, it may require extra attention.
  • Can the topography support your plans? For instance, if you envision having a walk-out basement, will that be possible with this lot?
  • Could any local ordinances or permit fees affect your plans? Each municipality has unique restrictions and construction ordinances.
  • Will your plans require approval by an architectural review committee? Many developments have homeowner’s associations that have rules in place to maintain a certain look within the neighborhood.
  • How much can you expect to pay in property taxes? While the property taxes for the lot will be on the listing sheet, you may want to look into the taxes you would expect to incur once your home is built in order to budget properly. You can do this by reviewing the public records for nearby homes of similar style and size.

When it comes to borrowing against the property, many of the same things that apply in a home loan will apply here. The bank will order an appraisal of the property. We will look at your credit. One different aspect is that the down payment on vacant land is higher. At Old Second, for example, we require 25 percent.

Benefits

Building your own home means it will be a while before your move-in day. However, when that day comes, you’ll be moving into a home that is unique to you. It will reflect your tastes and your choice of materials—and the closets will be exactly where you want them!

When you find the right spot for that home, visit us here or call 1-877-966-0202. We cannot wait to talk to you about how a lot loan can get you that much closer to your move-in day.

Guardianships: Someone to Watch Over Them

Michele Morgan, Vice President/Trust Officer MorganM_BUS003xqc

The one thing you should know about guardianships—also known as conservatorships—is that they protect individuals who are unable to make sound decisions for themselves. As court-ordered arrangements, they result in the appointment of an individual or corporation to handle that person’s care and/or financial matters.

The arrangement lasts as long as necessary. In the case of a minor, that may be until they reach the age of 18. For an adult, it could be a lifelong appointment or just until they sufficiently recover from a health issue.

Circumstances That Lead to the Need

Guardianships are subject to state laws, and established by a court proceeding in the individual’s home county. Where children are involved, there is typically a large sum of money—either an unexpected inheritance or a personal injury settlement. Adult guardianships generally arise due to a temporary or permanent disability or an injury.

When the need arises, there are two different roles created in a guardianship: one involving the “Guardian of the Person” where the named individual or corporation is appointed to oversee the needs and care of the individual. The second role is the “Guardian of the Estate” to oversee the individual’s financial matters.

Guardians can be family members, unrelated individuals or, as mentioned above, corporations. Where large sums are involved, judges often prefer to see a bank serve as the guardian of the estate or, at the very least, as a co-guardian to ensure the assets will remain in place to support the individual throughout their life. Regardless of who is appointed the court requires an annual report to ensure the current arrangements continue to serve the needs and best interests of the individual.

Guardianships for children end at the age of 18 with a proceeding that determines the individual is now capable of making rational and prompt decisions about their own care and finances. For adults, a physician typically supplies a statement verifying they’ve regained the capacity to assume responsibility for their own care and finances.

Guardianships versus Powers of Attorney or Estate Plans

The need for a guardianship arises from the lack of other legal documents, such as powers of attorney or an estate plan. Sometimes, family members are overwhelmed by the medical side of caring for a loved one or have trouble agreeing on a course of action. In such cases, they may petition the court to appoint an impartial corporate guardian, especially to oversee financial matters. This saves family members from having to account to the court for how money is spent and from having to reimburse the estate if any charges are deemed inappropriate later.

Compassion Is Part of the Arrangement

While having the court involved in the care and financial matters of a loved one may seem invasive, judges involved with cases like these typically act as extended family members, especially where juveniles are involved. They take a genuine interest in ensuring each person gets what they need to be the best they can be. Compassion carries the day.

To learn more about guardianships and how Old Second can be of assistance in this area, please call me at 630-844-3222. I’m here to help get you the answers you need as you consider your family’s options.

Understanding the Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

Michele Morgan, Vice President/Trust OfficerMorganM_BUS003xqc

When you or a family member has a disability, protecting financial assets becomes a priority, especially when qualification for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is involved. Fortunately, two types of special needs trusts (SNT) can help accomplish this.

Both trusts offer significant financial protection and can be used to pay for quality-of-life expenses, like wages for personal attendants and travel costs as well as for home furnishings, cars and even the therapeutic treatments not covered by Medicaid. The trusts differ in the degree to which these supplemental expenses are covered. This makes it essential to choose the right one for the job.

  • First-Party-Funded SNTs are funded using the disabled person’s own financial assets.
  • Third-Party-Funded SNTs are created using someone else’s money, not the disabled person’s assets.

While both types of trusts are exempt for Medicaid-qualification purposes, different rules apply to the way distributions can be made. This means the situations for their best use also differ.

First-Party-Funded SNT Rules

This type of trust is used when the disabled person’s own assets are sufficient to pay for the expenses Medicaid doesn’t cover. The disabled person, or someone acting on their behalf, creates the trust. That person is a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or the court. Funds typically come from a personal injury settlement, or inheritance that did not take a disability into account.

These trusts are irrevocable—once established, no changes are permitted. They must also include language that declares Medicaid has a lien on the trust’s assets. Any balances due to Medicaid for services received during the disabled person’s lifetime will need to be repaid to Medicaid before any other distributions may be made per the wishes of the disabled person’s estate.

Because Medicaid has this claim against the trust, all distributions during the trust owner’s lifetime are subject to review by Medicaid. The rules regarding those distributions are restrictive. For instance, a disabled person who wants to give a birthday gift to a sibling is prevented from doing so under this type of trust. The penalty for an errant disbursement can be severe. The disabled person is disqualified from Medicaid, becomes a private payer and needs to spend down the trust. Once that person’s assets reach $2,000 they may reapply for Medicaid.

Third-Party-Funded SNT Rules

This SNT is also exempt for Medicaid purposes because the money is not the disabled person’s and there is not a Medicaid lien. However, with no payback provision, the allowed distributions are less restrictive and determined by the grantor of the trust. Third-party trusts are typically funded with inheritances and bequests from family members who planned ahead and created the trust.

However, there are still rules. Chief among these is that the disabled person may not have any control whatsoever over the funds.

Hiring a Professional

Because the administration and investment of these trusts requires deep knowledge of the disbursement rules, typically either a corporate trustee or a combination of both a family member and a corporate trustee is chosen to oversee them. While naming only a family member is also possible, it puts undue pressure on that person. One false disbursement could strip a loved one of Medicaid coverage.

When hiring a corporate trustee, it’s important to find one who is willing to spend the time needed to understand and accommodate not just the rules but the needs and preferences of the disabled person.

If you, a friend or a family member might benefit from establishing an SNT—or from having a corporate trustee assume more responsibility for administering an existing SNT—we would be happy to talk to you about the options.

Call me at 630-844-3222. I am happy to help in any way I can.

Land Trusts: An Estate Planning Tool

Carolyn Swafford, CTFA, Vice President/Trust OfficerSwaffordC_BUS014qc

Land trusts are a versatile legal tool for holding title to real estate. Individuals, investors, businesses and families all use land trusts to accomplish specific goals regarding the acquisition, ownership and transfer of property.

Land of Lincoln…and Trusts

Illinois is among only a handful of states that allows the creation of land trusts. Although the legal precedent originated in England, land trusts also began popping up in the United States. They first appeared in Illinois in the late 19th century and were used by real estate developers to acquire multiple parcels of land needed to build large-scale developments.

Using Land Trusts

Privacy is a popular reason to establish a land trust. Property can be deeded into a land trust either at the time of purchase or anytime afterwards. The trust becomes the owner of the property. The individual then becomes the beneficiary with all the rights, avails and proceeds to the property. Since the trust is the owner of the property, the beneficiary is able to keep their name off all public records.

As a legal tool, therefore, a land trust can be used to accomplish very specific goals. Here are three of the most common uses.

Protecting Business Interests

Land trusts are a great way to add a layer of protection between the beneficiary and the property that is contained in the trust. This protection ensures judgment claims against a beneficiary do not automatically become a lien on the real estate or otherwise cloud the title.

Bypassing Probate

If an individual or individuals are named to inherit the beneficiary’s interest after their death, the land trust is not subject to the probate process. This allows the remainder beneficiaries to manage or sell the real estate much faster.

Transferring Interests

When there are multiple beneficiaries in a land trust, there may be a time when one beneficiary buys another out. Individuals may also want to gift their share to another person. Transferring interests within a land trust is accomplished easily and quickly without the need to record public documents.

Flexible and Easy to Establish

Since a land trust is a legal entity, you will want your attorney to prepare the Land Trust Agreement and Deed in Trust. In cases where Old Second is named as the trustee, the necessary forms are downloadable from our website.

For more information on land trusts, click here or contact me directly at 630-906-5470 to discuss how this legal tool might benefit you.

 

 

Career Tips for the Class of 2017

Chris Lasse, First Vice President/Human Resource DirectorLasseC_IN097qc

With graduation comes a deluge of well-intended career advice from family, friends…and total strangers. Some of it will transcend the ages, while some may reflect a different time and employment environment. Other advice may simply not be right for you and what you want to accomplish.

As you sort through it all, here are six tips to help you make the most of your first career move and the opportunities that follow. They’re based on what we see as we pour through resumes, interview candidates and make hiring decisions.

  1. Choose passion over money. When you are excited about what you do, you tend to do it well. That passion will eventually lead to a higher paycheck over the long haul. Taking a job that holds little interest but offers a higher salary may seem like the responsible thing to do. However, it can lead to being stuck in a career path you can’t afford to exit. It can also leave you without the skills and experience needed to transition into the profession you aspired to in the first place.
  2. Know the tradeoffs of working for a large or small company. Large companies can be well-oiled recruiting and training machines. Often, however, in exchange for a company that looks good on your resume, you give up some control over the skills you acquire, what you get to do with them, the breadth of experience you gain and the positions open to you. Working for a smaller company can expose you to a wider variety of job duties. Many times, this means gaining exposure to senior-level executives and the work that they perform—things that can be off limits at bigger companies.
  3. Be realistic about the market value of your degree. As an English major, for example, your starting salary might be less than half of that of an engineering graduate. Realize your value as an entry-level candidate—don’t shortchange yourself, but be pragmatic. Factor in the long-term value of building skills and gaining experience. And, if you need a tie-breaker, always take the job with the better boss.
  4. Look beyond the title. Good entry-level jobs help train you for long-term success. For instance, we often have openings for Credit Analysts. These positions are vital to the lending process. More importantly, they can lead to any number of lucrative career paths since they offer employees the chance to build very marketable experience and skills that are currently in short supply. Consider these types of jobs, they are stepping stones to greater responsibility.
  5. Find a way to stand out. The numerous job sites—from Indeed to LinkedIn—make it easy to find and apply for positions. With one click, you and several hundred other new graduates with your same degree and level of experience can go after the same job. Find ways to be different.

When you are one in 400, make sure your resume stands out.

  • Find a way to become an employee referral. This will improve your odds of getting hired more than anything else you do.
  • Check LinkedIn for any possible connection you can make to the recruiter or someone at the hiring company.
  • Edit your resume for each job to include phrases from the posting. If an automatic parsing tool is used, you will be a perfect match. If not, you’ll catch the recruiter’s eye.
  • Craft a unique cover letter for each position to personalize your application.
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy for grammatical and spelling errors.
  1. Be strategic and have a long-term plan. This means thinking about where you want to be in 3–5 years or more. Mapping out your path will help you identify the type of experience you need and the skills you want to acquire. It not only makes you a more committed candidate, but it also keeps you focused and motivated.

Remember, the path you are on is long and likely to take unexpected turns. Our best advice is to use each stop to learn, expand your skills and gain the experience that leads to the next opportunity. We know you’ll do great.

If you are interested in making Old Second Bank your first stop after graduating, click here.

Taking the Stress Out of Closings

Alaine Bussler, Residential Closing Manager00001

David Kozuh, First Vice President—Residential Lending

Making the decision to buy a new home is thrilling, and the last thing we want is for the mortgage process to interfere with that. That’s why we make sure you know what to expect each step of the way. If you have a question or don’t understand something in a document you’ve been sent, we are here to talk you through it.

New Transparency

In the past, much of the stress in the closing process came from the way lenders were required to provide disclosure and loan documents to you. It made it harder to know how much your home—and your loan—would really cost after fees. That was typically something that came at the very last minute, without adequate time to review.

That has changed. The disclosure requirements are now much easier to read and understand. We are able to give you the first document, The Loan Estimate, three days after you apply for a mortgage, and the second document, The Closing Disclosure, three days before you close. This gives you time to review the terms and amounts you are agreeing to and enables you to ask questions if there is anything you are unsure of.

The Loan Estimate

Like its name implies, this three-page document summarizes the terms and price of your loan. It provides the information needed to develop a better understanding of your mortgage quote, including the amount you can expect to pay monthly based on the estimated closing costs.

The Closing Disclosure

The Closing Disclosure is an itemized account of the final settlement expenses and is provided three days before you close. Specifically, it confirms the final terms, how much cash you will need to bring to your closing, the loan details and the total cost of the loan. The Closing Disclosure also provides an accounting of any changes in the amounts that appeared in the Loan Estimate, along with reasons for them.

In combination, the two documents enable you to understand what, if anything, changed before agreeing to the final terms.

Big Numbers Shouldn’t Lead to Tense Times

The changes to the disclosure law essentially make the way we work with our borrowers—taking the time to answer questions and being transparent about what’s being agreed to—standard to the industry.

Give us a call, at 877-966-0202 and let’s talk about what we can do to keep your mortgage experience as stress free as possible.

 

7 Tips For Raising Money-Smart Kids

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Carrie S. Niesman, Vice President/Regional Manager

As parents, we work hard to protect our kids. Even before they cross their first street, we start teaching them how to assess and address the risks that come with daily living.

When it comes to money, this can be a bigger challenge. It takes patience, discipline and repetition to become financially savvy. But, the earlier you start teaching them, the more likely it is they’ll be ready to make money-smart decisions by the time they receive their first paycheck.

Here are some tips for where and how to begin:

1. Lead by example. Even as they are seated in the cart at the grocery store, let them see you take your time to comparison shop and check for coupons before you choose a product. Ask for their help conducting online searches when making larger purchases. Help them understand that it isn’t as much about the amount of money you spend—even if you can afford it—as it is the value you receive for what you get.
2. Encourage them to start saving when they’re young. By kindergarten, kids are able to understand that it takes time to get what you want. Piggybanks are good learning tools for reinforcing this.
3. Stress the difference between wants and needs. Both understanding the difference and training yourself to only buy what you can afford once a “need” is established are keys to leading a prosperous life.
4. Let them see how saving works. The jar concept helps make the difference between short-term savings and long-term savings concrete and visible. Kids can see where their money goes and watch it accumulate. They may use one jar to save for a specific goal, like a video game that will be coming out in a few months. Then, they may have a jar for long-term savings, like the car they said they want to be able to buy when they turn 16 or their college education, a goal you want them to aspire to. Some parents have another jar for giving to reinforce a family’s belief that it’s important to think of and share with others. In my own family, we’ve used jars to save for family outings, which helped my kids understand how much it costs to have fun at a carnival!
5. Insist they pay themselves first. As children start to receive allowances and learn that doing extra chores—at home and for neighbors—can lead to extra cash, teach them the concept of paying themselves first. Encourage them to add some portion of their earnings to savings before spending the rest.
6. Bring them to the bank. Today, most adults rely on electronic banking and ATMs to handle their personal finances. However, it can help children understand where the money goes when it gets deposited and to see how it is withdrawn by literally taking them to the bank. Once they get the mechanics of how money flows into and out of their accounts, making the switch to electronic transfers and the use of debit cards can be much easier and less likely to result in overdraft charges or unnecessary fees.
7. Exercise care when using credit cards around children. To a child, paying with a credit card resembles waving a magic wand to get whatever you want, when you want it. If you aren’t using cash in their presence, try to let your children catch you doing your monthly bills to help them understand that the money to pay for those charged purchases is quite real and comes out of your account.

Where We Can Help
Moving money from jars and into savings account deposits also reinforces the notion of how savings builds over time. Similarly, letting kids review their statements and encouraging them to use calculators, like those offered on our website, can also help them understand what saving—and investing—looks like and where it leads over time.

Being a community bank, we are always available to meet with you and your children to answer any questions they may have and talk to them about the best way to meet their financial goals. Together, we can achieve a money-smart future.

5 Ways to Benefit from an Annual Mortgage Review

Greg Kuda, Vice President—Residential Lendinggkuda1_600

If you’re like most people, you probably meet with your financial advisor at least once a year to review how changes in your life and in the securities markets could impact your invested assets. However, few people think to request a similar check-in with their loan officer to conduct a review of their mortgage. Yet, periodically ensuring your current loan terms remain in your best interest is an equally smart money management move.

Your Biggest Asset Is Usually Your Largest Expense

With the recent recovery in home values in our area, it’s likely that your home equity has also increased. That rise may enable you to strengthen your overall financial situation or help you realize other financial goals.

For instance, if you bought your home several years ago and took advantage of one of the low-down-payment programs, your home equity may be high enough now that you are no longer required to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) each month. Being able to eliminate that expense either by having your home re-appraised or through a refinancing can reduce payments by $100 a month or more.

Similarly, if your family is expanding and you are thinking of adding on to your house, buying a vacation property, or your children are fast-approaching college age and you are looking for money to help pay for college, it could be more affordable to access your home equity through a second mortgage or by refinancing than through other financing arrangements.

5 Potential Benefits of Refinancing

  • Eliminate mortgage insurance
  • Pay off faster
  • Lower monthly payment
  • Cash out
  • Potentially reduce taxes

Where You Started Versus Where You Are Today

It’s natural that after making a big decision, especially one involving a lot of paperwork, like a mortgage, to resume your regularly scheduled life and not give it another thought. However, given the amount of money you have invested in your home and the size of your monthly mortgage payment, proactively managing your home loan through periodic reviews has the potential to help you meet more of your financial goals even sooner.

When to Review Your Mortgage

  • Interest rate environment changes
  • Life changes (marital status, new baby, college-bound child, retirement)
  • Remodeling or have plans to
  • Home equity rises above 20%

To schedule your annual mortgage review, contact your loan officer here or call 1-877-966-0202.

What First-Time Home Buyers Need to Know Today

Jocelyn Retz, 1st Vice President—Home Loans jretz

There’s a first time for everything. When it comes to home buying, having a resource who can show you the ropes and guide you through your financing options isn’t just helpful—it can save you money.

You Have Options…Lots of Options

First-timers have choices. Each of the mortgage programs serving first-time home buyers in our area have different terms, benefits and uses. Some are more appropriate for new construction, while others can provide added benefits if you are buying a fixer-upper.

Probably the most familiar option is the Federal Housing Administration FHA mortgage. These often have less stringent standards than most conventional lending programs. However, not all homes will qualify. While FHA-insured loans used to be the choice for those seeking to make a low down payment (with a 3.5 percent minimum), some conventional loans now offer an even lower down payment option for borrowers with good credit at just 3 percent.

Veterans have access to even more flexible programs with no down payment requirement. The further away you are from the Chicago Metropolitan area, the likelihood increases that you may be able to borrow through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which offers another zero percent down payment program with attractive terms for those settling down in rural areas.

The State of Illinois, through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), is another source of financing for first-time home buyers who work with Old Second. Its 1ST Home Illinois mortgage offers generous down payment assistance to working class families.

While a lot of buyers today look to their friends and family members for advice, the features and requirements of some of the better known mortgage programs have changed recently. By working directly with a community-based lender who participates in a wide variety of programs—not every lender does—you can make a more informed decision about what would be most advantageous for your financial situation. In particular, you can find out how much it will cost you over time.

Don’t Just Get a Mortgage—Get Advice

While many lenders now take applications online and communicate via text and email—Old Second included—having a person to talk to as your application makes its way through the review process can help you understand how it works and what additional requests for information mean. That said, the mortgage process isn’t as complicated as most people think. Compared to what borrowers go through to receive and repay a student loan, for instance, this can be much simpler.

Many of the conventional mortgages Old Second makes continue to be serviced by us after they close. Some clients find it reassuring that after the effort they make to choose the right lender, they will have an ongoing relationship with that same lender over the life of their loan. That is not typical outside of a community-based bank. However, the way we see it, our reputation as a bank, as employees and your neighbors is on the line when we work with you. We want to be there for you from the beginning of the process through your closing—and for the party to celebrate your paid-off mortgage!

For more information on how we work with our first-time home buyers, visit us here or call 1-877-966-0202. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do to help you succeed with your first big move.